Archives For Digital Reputation Management

I was interviewed for Fox 9’s investigative report on Wednesday, “Is Formspring a New Forum for Bullying?

The report focused on Formspring, a fast-growing social community that is part of the a new Q&A trend that includes Quora and Facebook Questions.

Because users are allowed to ask questions anonymously, many questions involve topics or sentiment one may not say to someone’s face. Like any social network of this nature, anonymity increases the chance for hurtful comments that can contribute to bullying.

However, I was quick to point out most sites, including Formspring, have privacy settings to help users avoid such situations.

Formspring is just one of many (and many to come) social sites that can be used both positively and negatively, depending on the user. And although it’s difficult to cite a social network for fault when its users misbehave, there are tangible consequences to naiveté when it comes to privacy.

Ultimately, responsibility comes down to vigilant parenting matched with ongoing education to equip today’s teens at how to navigate a changing social landscape.

Watch the segment here.


For the second year in a row…and it’s just the latest in 18 months of buck-passing

Got this comment on my posterous post about this.:

Hello, Steph here from Qwest, I am sorry to see that there have been so many telephone books delivered to this empty home. Here is a location where people can opt out of deliveries of local phone books.
I hope this is helpful,

thank you

Steph Lake
Manager, Talk To Qwest Team
“At Qwest your account information is confidential and protected by law, so I need your permission to access the account.”

LOL – so the neighbor has to call Qwest? Nice.

I left this comment over there:

Thanks for the comment, Steph. So you’re saying it’s my responsibility (the next door neighbor) to opt out a foreclosed home from Qwest Dex phone book spam? Why doesn’t Qwest just *not* deliver to vacant properties? Especially those covered in “Foreclosed” and “Do Not Enter” signs?

So I visited the link, it led to a toll free number. I talked to Sarah at Qwest (wouldn’t give me an extension or ID #), who said without the home phone number there, there’s nothing they can do to stop them. Nice x2.

Hey Steph Lake, I called your toll free number, and they said they can’t stop the deliveries without a home phone number. How would you like a company to litter all over the vacant properties in your neighborhood?

I asked them if there was an address for a Qwest property I go could litter them. The gal laughed and wished me a happy day.

New comment from Steph over at Posterous.

I agree they shouldn’t deliver to empty homes, especially if it seems obvious that it is empty. If you can send me the physical address of the home I can see what we can do to request no more deliveries. Thank you My address is
Steph Lake
Manager, Talk To Qwest Team
“At Qwest your account information is confidential and protected by law, so I need your permission to access the account.”

Here are a couple clues that the property is foreclosed and vacant:

I e-mailed them with the address and the pictures.

[address] is a foreclosed property and completely vacant, yet you’ve delivered phone books to this property two years in a row. I called last year, and yet you littered a SACK of phone books at the front door again this year.

I was told to call your toll free number, and Sarah (wouldn’t give her extension or ID#) said without a phone number they can’t guarantee the delivery will be stopped. That’s ridiculous.

As the next door neighbor, I shouldn’t have to pick up corporate litter that blows into my lawn from Qwest littering paper on a vacant property. All that I’m asking is for you to take them off your delivery route until someone moves in to handle their own phone book spam issues

I guess we won’t know until next year if Qwest took them off. Hopefully the property isn’t still vacant by then, but if it is, I’ll be watching.

I went ahead and opted out of the unwanted paper directory spam myself here. “Sarah the Mystery Customer Service Rep” said you have to opt-out every year, so I’ll probably end up like Ed with an opt-out notice AND the books next year.


We moved the conversation over to Twitter:

  • @gregswan: Going back and forth w/ @talktoqwest about Qwest littering books at foreclosed neighbor. Can’t opt-out w/o phone #!
  • @TalkToQwest: @gregswan It’s not qwest. The directory is owned by DEX, its the directory that we recommend. We have offered to assist you if needed.
  • @gregswan: @TalkToQwest I would like assistance stopping the delivery of phone book spam to vacant properties. I was told you can’t w/o a phone number.
  • @TalkToQwest: @gregswan Qwest isn’t dropping these, DEX is. We’ll contact DEX, Please email the address to, we can contact DEX Directly
  • @gregswan: @TalkToQwest I already e-mailed you the address. Dex needs the Qwest phone number. I need your litter to stop blowing into my yard.
  • @TalkToQwest: @gregswan Okay, looks like we have the email. I will contact DEX and attempt to get them to stop delivering the DEX phone books, Thanks.
  • @gregswan: @TalkToQwest Thanks. Seems like better policy for Dex to *not* deliver phone books to vacant properties than spend so much effort on 1 house
  • @TalkToQwest: @gregswan Okay, I sent DEX a request via the “contact us” option and asked them to remove the address. Hope this does the trick.

LOL. I could’ve done that. I went ahead and e-mailed them (, too.

E-mail from Qwest:

With all due respect, this is not a Qwest issue, but a DEX issue. We do not hire or instruct or any way shape or form instruct DEX on how to contract and have this product distributed in any manner shape or way that would be indicative of the post you have suggested so far.

In all fairness, I understand how this upsets you but think that your anger is misdirected.

That said, this is a product that we prefer to recommend for its intended use and does carry our name as a recommended provider and as such I will contact them in an attempt to have the delivery discontinued.

Going forward, if there are any other concerns with services that are actually Qwest related, I would be happy to assist you in any way that I can.


Steve Schwartz
Mgr, Talk To Qwest Team

That’s hilarious, because Qwest came to me offering help and apologies — not Dex — so I just assumed with all this back and forth that they had a stake in it.

Thanks for the note. With Qwest left comments on my blog apologizing and referring me to opt-out #’s, you can see why I would assume you two worked together. I sent Dex a note, as well. -G.

So the buck has been passed on responsibilities with this house yet again.

Do you follow @GroundhogPhil on Twitter yet?

Punxsutawney Phil on Twitter @groundhogphil

Last year around this time I realized there was a huge missed opportunity for promoting Groundhog Day in social media.

So I went ahead and set Phil up with a Twitter account. @PunxsutawneyPhil was one character longer than Twitter allows, so I went for @GroundhogPhil.

To be fair, at the end of last year’s Groundhog Day, I wrote, “If you represent Punxsutawney Phil and/or Punxsutawney Groundhog Club, I will glady turn over the Twitter account to you. I’m just having some fun, so please shoot me a note.” But I never heard from anyone.

This year I’d forgotten about the account until I got a new follower e-mail notification indicating Laura Fitton (@pistachio) was following @GroundhogPhil.

This is hilarious for a couple reason: 1) no one had followed Phil for nearly a year; 2) at SXSW a couple years ago, my friend Nathan and I (virtually) stole Laura’s shoe, and she ended up slapping Nathan; 3) Laura is a Twitter expert and who knows what she thinks of character Twitter accounts.

So I busted out the password reset and started tweeting for Phil again this year. Here are some of my favs so far:

Hugo Chavez reportedly accusing US of testing weapon of mass de-sunshine in Punx, PA to mess with my prediction.6:48 PM Jan 22nd from UberTwitter

Mustache guy just stuck a hose in my burrow attached to his jeep’s exhaust pipe. I think the stress is getting to him.3:24 PM Jan 22nd from web

They say we’re young and we don’t know, We won’t find out until we grow… Babe…I got you babe.. #musicmonday
10:18 AM Jan 19th from web

Winter! I just love hats, coats, mittens AND sniffles! Let’s do this the rest of the year.
8:05 AM Jan 19th from UberTwitter

Moustache guy just dropped off a Snuggie and Mad Men on Blu-Ray. I aint coming out for months.
8:35 PM Jan 18th from UberTwitter

And…. still winter. In your face, people.
8:49 AM Jan 18th from UberTwitter

My prediction: Chuck Norris will get sick of winter and roundhouse kick the earth to tilt its axis and make it summer.
8:30 PM Jan 16th from UberTwitter

Saturday night, and I’m about to prognosticate up some pizza rolls.
4:59 PM Jan 16th from mobile web

A week ago, the tourism folks at have moved Phil into the 21st century with a sweet text campaign:

Sign up to get a text of Punxsutawney Phil’s Febuary 2, 2010 Weather prognostication from Gobblers Knob via your moble device by texting “Groundhog” to 247365 between now and Groundhog Day.

They have a Facebook Page and @visitpa Twitter account, too. However, they’re both overtly tourism focused and don’t follow through on the social character personality promise of the text campaign.

So I’ve continued tweeting as Phil. Yesterday, on the same day as Apple’s iPad announcement, PETA suggested Phil be replaced by a robot.

So Phil had some fun with it:

@PETA The idea that a robot could predict weather better than a rodent living beneath the ground is simply foolish. #iPhil
about 10 hours ago from web

Moustache guy is pretty shook up about this PETA robot thing. I’m getting a burrow makeover, complete with HDTV and a Wii!
5:08 PM Jan 27th from UberTwitter

Instead of a robotic groundhog to replace me, how about PETA sends over naked Pam Anderson from those anti-fur ads?
9:49 AM Jan 27th from web

And it was a surprise to get an @-reply from @peta!

@GroundhogPhil How lovely 2 hear from u Phil. Hope u get that holiday u deserve!
about 11 hours ago from HootSuite in reply to GroundhogPhil

There have actually been quite a few interesting people to strike up conversations with Phil this year. See some of the better ones here.

Okay, so I’m in year two of brandjacking Punxsutawney Phil. As I said last year, this is yet another example of why it’s critical companies, brands and individuals proactively stake out their online reputation.

Meanwhile, I’m not clever or entrepreneurial enough to keep this up. I’m hoping someone will respond to the note below and take it from here. Otherwise, who knows? Perhaps Phil will start speaking Spanish next year.

NOTE: If you represent Punxsutawney Phil and/or Punxsutawney Groundhog Club, I will glady turn over the Twitter account to you. I’m just having some fun, so please shoot me a note.

I’ve been MiNterviewed

December 16, 2009 — Leave a comment

Lee Odden over at TopRank sent me some future of marketing and PR questions, and I answered the heck out of them, including comments on online reputation management, social media measurement, tips for getting started with listening/ engagement strategies and more.

Read the whole thing here.

Earlier this week my company, Weber Shandwick, put out a fantastic white paper on the Fortune 100’s use of Twitter.

The findings are quite compelling:

  • 73 percent of Fortune 100 companies registered a total of 540 Twitter accounts.
  • 76 percent of those accounts did not post tweets very often
  • 53 percent of the accounts did not display personality, or a consistent tone/voice
  • 52 percent were not actively engaged
  • 50 percent of the Fortune 100 accounts had fewer than 500 followers
  • 15 percent were inactive; of those, 11 percent were merely placeholder accounts
  • 4 percent were abandoned after being used for a specific event.

Weber Shandwick prescribes five basic, but essential steps for Fortune 100 companies to start to create true engagement and market interaction on Twitter:

  1. Listen to conversations.
  2. Participate in conversations.
  3. Update frequently with valuable information.
  4. Reply to people who talk about issues that are important to your company.
  5. Retweet relevant conversations.

Full paper here:

Download  it here.

I had a great time presenting at the Minnesota Interactive Marketing Summit Conference last week.

Nathan Wright and I copresented “Social Marketing 101: Everything you think you should already know…”

Get the handout here (pdf)

I’m speaking…

July 7, 2009 — 1 Comment

from davidalston on Flickr

I had no idea this photo would follow me around

Have you Googled yourself lately? I mean, really gave yourself a deep Googling?

What are people saying about you? What kinds of pictures will your boss, employees or (gasp!) kids discover with a few short clicks? What does any of this mean to your personal brand?

This Thursday I’m co-presenting “The Brand of You in the Digital Age” with Tim Brunelle at an event hosted by the Minnesota Chapter of the American Marketing Association and Minnesota Interactive Marketing Association (MIMA).

We’re going to talk about the changing face of personal brand, why your online identify matters and tips for monitoring, positioning and saving your digital reputation.

Event details:
The Brand of You in a Digital Age
July 9, 2009 | 5:00 p.m.
Grumpy’s Bar – Roseville, MN | REGISTER HERE

Be sure to check out Tim’s preview post at the MNAMA blog.